Woman reclines on bed with her dog leaning on her body as she reflects on her life before

Mourning Your Past Life

Last updated: February 2023

I always think of my life in terms of pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis. It is a little complicated now that I have two points in my life where I’ve been diagnosed, but I still divide my timelines that way.

Reflecting on who I was before my first diagnosis is pretty tough. I was very young and lost, and I was just starting out in my career. I was finally making headway behind the chair, and I was on track to a promotion. I had a lot of friends, and a lot of support. I had a very full social calendar, and I went to a lot of festivals and shows at different venues in Seattle.

I miss that person sometimes. Throughout life, it’s pretty normal to mourn past versions of yourself, but I feel like living with cancer makes that amplified. I miss how free I was to do whatever it was I wanted. Everything changed after my first round of cancer.

This or That

Do you think about your life as pre-diagnosis and post-diagnosis?

Taking away our dreams

Before my second diagnosis, I had a lot more of my life finally together. I was almost 10 years into my career, I bought a house, and I was engaged. A lot of feelings came up after I became metastatic, but I know the main one was the feeling of it being unfair.

How unfair of cancer to come and disrupt my life, and throw a wrench in the whole thing. Other people got to enjoy long lives with their spouses, and me? Who knew?

This time around, I miss what could have been. My wife and I were going to expand our family. We finally closed on the house of our dreams. We talked about our daughter living in that house when she went to college. Those dreams have been taken from us now.

Coping with the new normal

There are a lot of different avenues one can take to cope. This is something I speak with my therapist a lot about! Lately, these are the more positive-focused ways I’ve been working on healing my mind and body:

  • Yoga and meditation
  • Journaling
  • Movement of my body
  • Swimming (when I can)
  • Traveling
  • Getting tattoos

Not everyone’s experience is the same. There are a lot of layers and winding pathways to healing because it isn’t linear. Be gentle on yourself! Yes, it is still important to honor who you once were, and those memories can be difficult to process.

All of these feelings are very normal, and for me, some days they are quiet, and some days they are very loud. I think part of the healing process has been opening up about these feelings and finding different ways to express them. Lately, being able to put these feelings on a page has been very healing for me, and for that, I am grateful.

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